I love Thanksgiving food.
I know it’s fashionable to hate on the usual turkey and gravy, but I love them. Green beans with almonds are a must. We do chopped potatoes tossed in oil and herbs and garlic and roasted in a pan on the grill rather than mashed potatoes, a very small dish of squash cooked with butter and onion salt rather than anything sweet, and always a Waldorf salad because we loooves us some Waldorf Salad. I may experiment with a savory bread pudding (Parmesan/garlic) instead of stuffing this year, just because it sounds like a neat idea. Desserts are variable; we’re not a big sweets-eating family, and are usually happy with peppermint stick ice cream with hot fudge sauce and a pie or two (apple or pumpkin with coffee ice cream because this is New England and we eat coffee ice cream by the half-gallon.)
But there’s one dessert I simply must have every year. It’s light and just sweet enough to be satisfying without being cloying. It doesn’t even have a name; I adapted it from a recipe my favorite aunt used to make when she was the family’s Designated Thanksgiving Hostess. She made hers in a pie shell; I’ve ditched the shell and serve it instead in a pretty crystal bowl. I’ve fiddled with the proportions of ingredients and added the ginger because ginger and pineapple go really well together. And every year, I look forward to making (and eating) it.
- 2 eight-ounce packages of Neufchatel (reduced fat cream cheese)
- ¼ cup sugar
- 2 cups heavy cream, whipped
- 2 large (not the soup-can size) cans crushed pineapple
- At least ½ teaspoon ground ginger (I usually use more, because I lurve me some ginger, but you might not be so enamored of it)
Leave Neufchatel out on the counter an hour or so to soften; at the same time, put the (preferably steel) bowl you’ll be whipping the cream in into the freezer to chill, along with the beaters—a chilled bowl helps the cream whip up better and keeps it from turning into butter. Dump the pineapple into a colander to drain.
When the Neufchatel is softened, beat the sugar into it till well blended. Blend the drained pineapple and ginger into the cheese mixture. Beat the heavy cream in your chilled bowl till it looks like huge fluffy cumulus clouds on a summer day, then fold it into the pineapple gloop till all is blended together. Pour it into a serving bowl or into individual dishes, dust the top with more ginger because it’s pretty, and chill in the fridge for a couple of hours before serving.
So what Thanksgiving dish can’t you live without? Want to share the recipe?